Figuring Holiday Sale Inventory

2012 Union Square Holiday Market

2012 Union Square Holiday Market

The applications for large holiday fairs come out around this time. Last year Wink and Flip had a booth at the Union Square Holiday Market and what amounted to a holiday season pass at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Williamsburg. Taking on the responsibility of a sizable holiday market can be both terrifying and gratifying.

Big business begins buying inventory for the holidays anytime from now until August. For smaller businesses, such as those that belong to the New York Etsy Team, product is handmade and ramping up for holiday inventory may have already begun. Talking to other designers, it seems the worry about having enough inventory can be a major obstacle to booking big holiday events.

How can you be sure you’ll be able to make all those holiday customers happy? One way to figure the amount of inventory you’ll need for the holidays is to work backwards: Decide – in a dream world – what you would like to make in terms of gross holiday sales. Then look at your best single sales day for 2012: Where was it, what were the conditions? It may very well have occurred during the holidays of the previous year.

Now, work backwards and figure out what that day looked like in terms of product breakdown. In other words, how many pieces of your product (necklaces/sewn animals/candles/soaps) did you sell that day? Then, further break down the day as best you can so you are able to see exactly what comprised the sales in each category within your business. For instance, for a jewelry company, how much of a $2,000 sales day was done in rings, bracelets, and headbands? Divide each of those sales totals into the $2,000 sales figure and you now have a breakdown of percentage of sales for each category. So, you might find that on a $2,000 day, 60% of sales were necklaces ($1200), 20% were bracelets ($400), 10% were rings ($200) and 10% were headbands ($200).

The next step is to choose your sales, apply and cross your fingers that you are admitted. Analyze each show. How many days does it run? Brooklyn Night Bazaar was eight two-day events, or 16 nights. Union Square was about six week, or 42 days.

We took the company’s per day figures and multiplied them by the number of days those markets were held. That would give us a feel for how much inventory we would need. But since not all days are anyone’s most successful day, we would round down, so we didn’t make too much excess inventory. Of course, there is always the problem of not getting into the shows for which you have produced inventory, but most designers running a business at this level will get into some serious holiday shows.

Most people who run handmade businesses are also producing product during the holidays, usually to catch up with sales. But it’s not easy to run and business and produce its inventory at the same time.

While it’s true that we have not yet sunk our teeth into a single cob of 4th of July corn yet, the time for crunching Christmas numbers is upon us. Good luck!



The Eco-Friendly One Person Business

This post is inspired by the upcoming panel discussion How to Make It: Implementing Green Practices in Your Designs sponsored by Uncommon Goods and scheduled for February 5th. The panel will discuss means of making your designs and business practices more eco-friendly and how doing so might make your business more competitive. For those of you who can't make this free event or want to think about how to implement some greener practices in your business right now, here are some suggestions:

City Cats by Deborah Julian on recycled card stock

1. Paper 

This is always the first one that comes to mind and here is how you can become a greener paper consumer: 

  • Use the cloud, e.g. Google Docs, Dropbox etc., to collaborate on documents instead of printing them out
  • Try to edit most of your work online instead of on a hard copy
  • If you do need to print something, try to set the margins smaller to print more information per page, use the black print setting instead of the color setting and print in draft mode. These practices will result in using less paper and ink.
  • And as a reminder, here are the obvious ideas: buy recycled paper, print on both sides, reuse paper as scratch paper, use your recycling bin

Vintage Salt Sack iPad Case by Fritz and Fraulein

2. Energy

Turn it off! When you are done with your work, turn off your computer. For ease of use, plug in your computer and all it's peripherals into a power strip and once you power down your computer you can turn everything off with one push of the button. Set your monitor to turn off after a reasonable time of inactivity instead of using a screensaver. And finally, remember to unplug your chargers when you don't use them. Yes, it comes down to about $1/year/charger but every little bit counts.

3. Office Furniture and Supplies

Use Freecycle or Craigslist to reuse rather than buy new items. For example, right now there are 5 office desks available on Freecycle New York City and assorted three ring binders are looking for a new home on Craigslist.

Salvaged Slate Tray by SimplyNu

4. Price Tags and Displays

Be creative in finding recyclables for your shop supplies. My grandmother who owned an antique shop in Missouri cut out her own display signs out of cereal boxes. Recycle scarves and fabrics into wrappings and furoshiki shopping bags.

I'm sure you can think of many other ways to start off the year on a greener foot. We'd love for you to share them with us!